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    By Michelle VonWald:

    "Linus Torvalds, a very cool guy and sometime TechTV guest, wrote the Linux operating system while he was a college student at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Instead of making it proprietary and trying to sell it, Torvalds gave Linux away. Anyone who wanted to develop for Linux could do so.

    As a result, thousands of people all over the world have worked on Linux and it has become a very sophisticated, complex, and powerful operating system. It is available as a free download or, for a nominal fee, on CD-ROM.

    Don't run out and download Linux just because it's free. It's not a consumer operating system, and it requires a high level of skill to install and run. It's a flavor of the Unix operating system -- on which most of the Internet runs -- and is mainly used by programmers as a development tool.

    An operating system is like the levels of the Titanic. At the bottom are the boiler-room workers who keep the ship moving; they're the BIOS. The next level up are the employees and attendants -- the hardware. Above that are all the decks with passengers -- the applications.

    As with Windows, Linux has applications, but it's as different from Windows as a Mac is from a PC. Windows documents cannot necessarily be read by Linux, and Windows programs cannot run on Linux. Most distributions of Linux don't have a graphical user interface, meaning no friendly buttons and no pick-and-choose menus.

    Knowledge of Unix is a valuable skill, and if you want to learn Unix, Linux is the way to go. You'll need to get one of the many different versions -- or distributions -- of Linux. Leo recommends the Red Hat Distribution from Red Hat Software. It seems to be Linus Torvalds' favorite as well. The Red Hat Distribution is one of the easiest to install and it has the most complete set of tools.

    If you don't want to commit to changing over your operating system, try this download. You can boot from CD to run Linux. Follow these steps:

      Download CD-ROM ISO Image. Burn ISO Image onto CD. Easy CD Creator will burn ISO Images. Change BIOS so that PC is set to boot from CD. Boot computer from CD. Use the easy Setup Wizard. It detects hardware and configures your system. Now play with Linux to see exactly what it can do."

      © 2003 helevorn

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